| September 2003 |

Fall Colours


The weather was beautiful today; whenever the sun is out and the temperature is right, I’ll always take a stroll along the nice little path behind Trinity College to Chapters.

Visiting the bookstore is a hobby I picked up when I was in Secondary One. Brash Basah Complex was my favourite place to hang out when I was in secondary school, and I would spend the whole day there reading Chinese novels and comic books.

Borders became my favourite bookstore after it opened in 1997. Its massive selection of open magazines impressed me; gone were the days when all the best magazines were shrink-wrapped. I would spend my free time flipping through them, ogling at all the super cars and latest gadgets.


I decided to bring along my camera to snap some shots and capture the fall colours before winter comes, and I was surprised by how much beauty there is around me. I pass by these flowers everyday, barely noticing them. But there they are, blooming in their full brilliance.

The flowers taught me an important lesson about life. Everybody will die someday, just like the flowers will wither when winter comes. But the prospect of death is not what makes our lives meaningful.

We should strive to leave our footprints in the history of mankind. We might not become the greatest leaders of all-time, or the richest men in history. But remember this: the choices you make in life make you.

Watching the flowers sway gently in the wind, I could hear John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society) whispering to me:

Carpe Diem, lads! Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary!

28 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (0)

Career Information Day

The career fair at University College yesterday was disappointing. After going for a seminar on how to maximise my results at the fair, I was so hyped up to do some networking and hopefully get a summer internship. I re-edited and reprinted my resume until Jay’s printer ran out of ink; and I didn’t even manage to hand out a single resume at the fair. Looking on the bright side, I did get a chance to practice my 30-second introduction speech to the exhibitors and learn more about jobs in the financial sector.

Something must be done to my sweaty palms. I don’t wish to go for surgery to fix it, but this irritating problem is cramming my style. All the smooth talking and knowledgeable answers wouldn’t matter in an interview after a wet handshake.

Perhaps I should worry more about getting an interview first.

24 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (0)

Suggestions and Feedback

Ray was kept indoors by Tropical Storm Isabel yesterday. Toronto wasn’t hit as bad as the US eastern seaboard; although it was raining very heavily and the winds were strong, it was more of an inconvenience than a hazard.

I decided to act on Cheryl’s suggestion and make SG Watch more reader-friendly by allowing readers to change the font size. I always welcome suggestions and feedback on how SG Watch can be improved; it’s important to keep my readers happy to keep them coming back.

Thank you for supporting SG Watch!

20 September 2003 · Site · Comments (0)

Abortion Is Not a Lifestyle Choice

BBC recently reported that advances in ultrasound scanning have allowed doctors to see that babies in the womb exhibit facial expressions as a reflex in preparation for birth. Ray loves babies, which explains why I’m pro-life on the abortion issue.

Many pro-abortion arguments focused on the issue of rights: mothers’ right to have an abortion; whether unborn babies have rights since individual rights begin at birth, with the creation of a new, separate human being.

This raises an interesting question regarding euthanasia: if a pregnant mother has the right to terminate her unborn baby's life, why shouldn’t a terminally ill patient be allowed to end his own? If the argument against euthanasia is that a cure for the patient might be discovered in the future, isn’t it possible the unborn baby could make major contributions to our society when he grows up?

However, there are exceptions to every rule. Rape victims should be given a choice whether to have an abortion; health reasons might also be used to justify abortion.

It’s important to remember that abortion is not a lifestyle choice; we must take responsibility for our own actions.

16 September 2003 · Health · Comments (0)

Friday Five III

This week’s Friday Five:

  1. Is the name you have now the same name that’s on your birth certificate? If not, what’s changed?

    Guopei has been my name since young. My father wanted to name me Bronson after American actor Charles Bronson; I’m so glad he didn’t put that name down on my birth certificate. But since so many people have trouble pronouncing and remembering my name, I decided to call myself Ray.

  2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be?

    I like my name the way it is, although longtime friends find it difficult to associate me with the name Ray.

  3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?)

    My parents went to the fortune teller before I was born, and he told them that there must be the element of water in my name. Since the Chinese character pei has it, they decided to call me Guopei.

  4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why?

    I like the names Guopei and Ray; it’s self-explanatory.

  5. Is the analysis of your name at kabalarians.com / triggur.org / astroexpert accurate? How or how isn’t it?

    You can give it a try if you’re interested.

12 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (0)

Dinga Awakes


Dinga is finally out of the box and back into my life. I received Dinga as a birthday present last October and it has been my room mate since then. Dinga has a friend called Pooko, which we bought as birthday present for Jay. You can find out more about Dinga and Pooko here.

When I started unpacking my boxes, I realised that there wasn’t enough storage space in my room. Desperate times call for desperate measures; I decided to fashion shelves out of cardboard boxes to store my books and clothes. It actually looked better than the old dresser I used to have, although I have to be careful not to overload the upper shelves; it’s made of cardboard after all.

Watching Dinga sits cheerfully on my bed, I finally feel at home in Toronto. It’s time to focus on the real challenges.

11 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (1)

Studying Overseas

I’m still suffering from jet lag, which explains why I’m up at five in the morning. Even though I’m a seasoned air traveller now, it still takes me three days before I can adjust to the 12-hour time difference. Perhaps it’s not such a good idea returning to Toronto a day before school starts.

Studying overseas is definitely a good experience, but sometimes I wonder whether it’s really for me. I didn’t plan to study overseas initially; my father asked me to study architecture in Glasgow when I was 16, but I didn’t want to go. I just couldn’t bear leaving my family and friends.

How I wish I could stay young forever and not worry about the uncertain future ahead. But change is the only constant; and time waits for no one. Do what is right and not what you like, they say. So here I am, alone in Toronto doing the right thing.

I probably made the right decision to study overseas, but I would definitely be happier studying back home. Doing the right thing is so hard sometimes.

08 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (1)

Friday Five II

This week’s Friday Five:

  1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most?

    I hate washing common toilets; if you miss, clean it yourself.

  2. Are there any that you like or don’t mind doing?

    I don’t mind making my own bed, but I usually leave it as it is.

  3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it’s needed?

    If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

  4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules?

    My desk is always in a mess, but I make sure that my drawers and cupboards are neatly organised; I don’t believe in sweeping the dust under the rug.

  5. What was the last thing you cleaned?

    I washed the dishes.

05 September 2003 · My Life · Comments (0)

Zero Employer CPF Rate

Miss Chua Lee Hoong suggested to have the employer CPF rate brought down to zero over the longer term to cut labour costs for companies. The recent CPF cut is a sensitive topic, especially in these tough times. I applaud Miss Chua for tackling this issue; it’s important that Singaporeans actively participate in the policy-making process as we restructure our economy.

Miss Chua said given that a Singapore worker is far more educated today than 40 years ago, the ability to plan and save for his own retirement should be there. Is this really true?

Older folks might not know how to manage their money efficiently, perhaps because they’re less educated; but they never spend above their means and always save for rainy days. It’s common to read about swindlers cheating tens of thousands of dollars from 70-year-olds. While I condemn this despicable act, how did these uneducated retirees manage to save so much? It’s simple: financial prudence and hard work.

Sad to say, these are 2 qualities that many young educated Singaporeans lacked. Often we spend more than we earn using credit cards, without even realising we’re unable to pay back the principle. The number of bankrupt individuals has been rising steadily; while the economic climate hasn’t helped, more have to do with our lifestyle.

Until recently, graduates still believe they should be getting a higher pay because they’re degree holders. They forgot that companies pay them not according to how educated they are, but how well they perform in their jobs. This message finally hit home these past few years as the economy worsens.

Miss Chua also criticised about how the CPF has morphed from a retirement scheme into a complex instrument of achieving a myriad of social-political objectives, from housing and health care to education to investment. It’s exactly because we Singaporeans can’t manage our own finances that the government has to relax the CPF rules to let us use our retirement fund for present expenses. Look what happened when the government implements the CPF Investment Scheme back in 1997.

Singapore needs a retirement scheme for its retirees, especially with an ageing population. Research shows that nearly one-fifth of Singaporeans have less than $10,000 in their CPF account by age 55. The situation will be worse if the employer CPF rate is reduced to zero. Who is going to support these financially dependent retirees then?

The CPF isn’t perfect, and changes must be made to it as we restructure our economy. However, it’s not in Singapore’s interests to cut the employer CPF rate to zero.

03 September 2003 · Money · Comments (0)

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